Peter begins his first epistle with an extended description of “a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1:5). “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he exalts, “who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (v. 3). None hitherto had fully known or understood these truths, including the Old Testament prophets to whom God had revealed portions of the truth concerning the coming Redeemer. What they did understand whetted their appetites for more understanding; as Peter explains, “the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow” (v. 11). However, they had to be content with the realization “that they were not serving themselves” (v. 12) with the prophecies given them but those who would receive the gospel during and following Peter’s time.
But as impressive as is the truth that the prophets sought futilely to understand the full meaning of the message given them by the Holy Spirit, Peter mentions an even more striking fact in a parenthetical statement, namely, that the very messages that confounded God’s prophets (though they faithfully delivered them) were “things into which angels long to look” (v. 12).
Nowhere does the Scripture give us any hint that the angels are curious about anything other than our salvation. How many questions we have about the Person and work of God and about the nature of heaven. The seraphim who stand above the throne of God—in His very presence—are filled with awe by God’s glory. But in that heavenly environment, they are satisfied to praise Him as “Holy, Holy, Holy” and to both observe and declare that “The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3). Basking in the radiance of God and all the ineffable glories of heaven, they feel no provocation to inquire beyond what God has revealed to them.
How curious we are about various aspects of creation. Yet the angels who witnessed at least part of the creation contented themselves with praising God and rejoicing in the display of His infinite power when He created the universe: “the morning stars [i.e., angels] sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). Wonder, amazement, admiration, reverence, worship, rejoicing—yes. But no hint of curiosity nor suggestion of further inquiry.
And throughout all time, the angels witnessed the resplendent grandeur of God and the infinite glory of all His mighty works. Age upon age, they were His messengers, did His bidding, observed His work on behalf of men apparently without ever being stirred to wonder further. But when God revealed His redemptive plan through the suffering and death of the Eternal Son, when God chose to bestow more abundant honor on lowly creatures who persisted in hating Him and rebelling against Him, when God gave them an esteemed place in heaven, when God brought them into His own family and made them joint-heirs with the Son of God—when that happened, the angels were confounded. This they wished to understand. And as perfect beings, preserved by the gracious power of God, they did not doubt His will nor His wisdom, they wished only to understand that they might praise Him more perfectly for this greatest of all His works, this highest expression of His Person. But they could not. It will be left to us lowly recipients of redemption’s grace and glory to fully reflect and expound the great wisdom, love, and grace that God demonstrated in saving us. Should we not begin today?
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